Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Managing requirements in a Lean way

Every Organization continuously thrives to find scope of the improvement to drive best results. One of the many ways for process improvement is lean i.e. removing waste. I studied lean during my masters for quality engineering course where I learned the principles of Lean and how we apply them to the manufacturing sector to improve the productivity. It has been seen that these very Lean principles are being applied by the business analyst’s professionals to eliminate common issues that bloat the project and makes it unmanageable. In this article I will discuss some basics of Lean principles and how business analysts can apply them in their day to day work.

What is Lean?

Systematic approach to eliminate waste. (Muda: Used by Japanese where muda means waste). It was extensively used in manufacturing sector to reduce waste, improve quality, time and efficiency. The lean manufacturing was started from Toyota Production System where they were using seven wastes to improve overall value.

When we think about Lean it was always associate with quality and process improvement to improve manufacturing. Companies saw many opportunities and started to apply same lean principles throughout organization to improve business processes and activities. Similarly lean principles can be applied by business analyst to deliver the projects on time.

Business analyst can use various lean principles to improve processes and deliver project on time.

Reuse Requirements: When a business analyst starts working on a new project usually it starts with requirements gathering phase. But we can reuse requirements which were gathered previously for projects. This may give you a head start for the project, increase productivity and quality. It will also give consistency between related systems. But it has its own risk. It may require more time and effort to work on reusable requirements then write those requirements from scratch. This can happen due to poor quality of existing requirements. Thus the organization needs to create high quality standard where it is possible to use existing requirements for new projects.

Study Application: In organization we tend to use various application with our main systems. But before buying any application a thorough study needs to be done. For example: Main systems updates are released every quarterly. Now we integrate an application with our main system. Unfortunately that application is not updated parallelly with main system updates. After few years the two systems may fall apart. Then the organization may buy new application which will require development team and again train users with respect to new application.

Accountable for the Deliverables: Once all the requirements are gathered it is very important for a business analyst to know whom to assign the requirements. It’s very much necessary the requirements are given to right person for the development and establish timelines.

Stay Focused: Stay focused on deliverables. Don’t work on too many different projects which are not related to deliverables. Dysfunctional team can lead to project to fail rather than scoping, poor requirements issues. 

Using Lean principles will help you finish the project on time, effectively and efficiently. Lean principles are not just bounded to manufacturing but you can use lean to define, measure, analyze, improve and control for continuous improvement throughout the organization. 

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